Many of us are somewhat disconnected from history. The recently released Report: Student don’t know much about U.S. history is but one example.
“Just 13 percent of high school seniors who took the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, called the Nation’s Report Card, showed a solid grasp of the subject.”
The study revealed that most students couldn’t identify Martin Luther King Jr or Abraham Lincoln and couldn’t say why they are important. Being somewhat a student of history I can say, I am not overly surprised. Since the 1930s the U.S educational system has made shifts from a well rounded curriculum to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, history, etc, to using the educational system to bring about social change. John Dewey was an evangelist for this idea and was fairly persuasive in bringing educators into the fold. The result is a culture that is disconnected from its history, has a leadership that is largely self anointed who guide, appeal to and promote a selfish culture who loves what they are promised, even though it is rarely delivered.
“Overall the quality and success of our lives can only be enhanced by a study of our roots,” said Steven Paine, former state schools superintendent for West Virginia. “If you don’t know your past, you will not have a future.”
In some cases our connection to our past is tenuous. Like Tevia in Fiddler on the Roof, the are held together by Tradition! Tevia says:
“Here is Anatevka, we have traditions for everything. How to sleep. How to eat. How to work. How to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep out heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God. You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you. I don’t know. But it’s a tradition. And because of our traditions every one knows who he is and what God expects him to do.
Living by uninformed tradition alone can give you a sense of history but without knowledge of history does not prepare you for the future. Changes in the present become fear inspiring events.
A virtually complete disconnection from history, as in the Report: Student don’t know much about U.S. history leaves the population living only in the present. There is no understanding of how we have arrived at this point in history and as a result no measurable way to plan for the future. Consequently, most demands are for the here and now. This is not only true in the culture we live in but in the church as well. It is a rare Christian that has any grasp on church history (For a starting point I would recommend Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley). It is even rarer that a Christian has a grasp on biblical history.
As anyone who has read our Journal, this blog and/or our Crux E-Letter is aware, we spend a fair amount of time raising issues about the current state of the church. The more well known leaders seem to be less concerned for sound teaching and more concerned for other things and they are little held accountable for the chaos they bring by embracing false teachers and/or focusing nearly exclusively on “social issues.” Sound theology plays very little in this setting. For example, singer/songwriter Joel Hemphill appears on Christian television, has won Dove awards, has been inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame” and yet holds to basically Jehovah’s Witness type doctrine in denying the deity of Christ and Trinity. This is clearly seen in his book Glory to God in the Highest:
“The doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation, as taught in modern Christian theology, is one of the greatest frauds that has ever been perpetrated in the history of humanity…These doctrines were designed by the master deceiver…” (pgs244-246)
“For some 1700 years, since the Council of Nicea, Christianity has followed Plato in his demon-inspired beliefs that “God” exists in three persons…”(p283)
“Jesus part in creation is that he redeemed all of creation by shedding his sinless blood on Calvary’s cross. But he is not the Creator! That kind of teaching dishonors God the Creator”(p289)
“…However, the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation are based on such fraudulent nonsense as we have just chronicles”(p316)
“Based on these biblical as well as historical facts, it is time for Christianity to acknowledge the pagan origins of its doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, repent, and purge itself of these “demon-inspired” and promoted teachings that diminish the work that Jesus did of condemning “sin in the flesh”, and rob God our Father of the glory He deserves and demands!”(p380)
As we look back over history we find that abandoning what God has said and charged his leaders with doing and teaching is familiar territory. We could start in Genesis and move forward but this is a short blog and so I will just pick one representative sample. In my reading this morning I again came across what God said through His prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 5:30-31:
“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their ownauthority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?”
“My people love it so!” What a sad commentary and yet so relevant to the church and culture today. As a ministry we don’t lose heart in what we do because we are grounded and informed by biblical history. What we see is not really a surprise but tends to follow the human heart in its rebellion toward God in favor of teachers and leaders that will tell us what we want to hear and we will reward them with following and heralding them. Sadly, it will end badly, as God asks, “But what will you do at the end of it?”
And so, we continue challenging false teaching in the church, exposing false teachers outside the church, confronting political leaders on their fraudulent claims and educating those who will listen. Jeremiah was promised his mission would be a failure; at least we are more hopeful than that.
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